V/A - Scratches and Needles: A Tribute to the Nils
Magwheel Records


Various artists are dragged together to perform
tribute songs to a much lauded early punk based band
who almost nobody listens to anymore.  Not a novel
concept, but I have to say it is pulled off
surprisingly well in this album.

The Nils were hugely influential in the early to mid 80's but never had much commercial success, and for good reason. Their songs were hard, driven and rhythmic but tended to just miss being catchy. At times they almost sounded like Joe Jackson with a hangover. But at their best, the Nils were upfront rockers.
Most of the bands doing covers are more poppy than the Nils were and the effect is, though some of the original raw sound of the music may be lost, it becomes more friendly to mass audiences when covered by these bands.
The Punchbuggy cover of "Daylight" and Doc Hopper's "Bandito Callin" were both very pleasant surprises featuring quirky instrumentals with a touch of reverence for the legacy of the Nils. "If Heaven Lies" is a great great song which Flounger does well.
Down by Law's cover of "Freedom" is predictably good. Sinkhole's "Fountains" was very very good-in some senses this cover exceeded the original.
The compilation is as strong as a comp can be I think--there were no awful songs a few mediocre ones and a handful of really really strong tracks. If you're a fan of the poppier end of pop punk, this is out of your depth. But again, if you are into early stuff but can still stomach the harder pop punk bands of the 90's this is worth checking out.
...ron provine...

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